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Shamas / Film Reviews 95 reshaping,yetagain,whatitmeanstobeMuslim.ScholarShermanJackson’swork on Islam and the Blackamerican illuminates earlier products of this reshaping, as does emerging research on Islam and the Black Atlantic. Hisham Aidi’s impressive contribution has been to do so both historically and globally in Rebel Music. Migrations of Islam demonstrates some of the ways in which American Muslims are imparting unique artistic responses to the intense and highly negative social and political predicament that followed 9/11. Louise Cainkar Associate professor of sociology and social welfare and justice in the Department of Social and Cultural Sciences at Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI. She is also Director, Interdisciplinary Major in Peace Studies. Cainkar is a scholar of Arab and Muslim Americans and current President of the Arab American Studies Association. She is the author of 2009 Homeland Insecurity: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience After 9/11 (New York: Russell Sage Foundation Press). Recent publications include 2016 “Becoming Arab American” Middle East Report. Spring: 44–46 and “Learning to be Muslim — Transnationally.” Religions. 5(3), 594-622; doi:10.3390/rel5030594. Her current writing is on transitional Arab American/Muslim American youth. doi:10.2979/jims.1.1.10 (T)ERROR Documentary, 2015, 84 minutes, Co-Directed and Produced by Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe’s documentary (T)ERROR provides a (T)ERROR provides a (T)ERROR rare, insider look exposing the flawed FBI practice of dispatching informants to target Muslim individuals for counterterrorism investigations, persisting even when there is no indication that any criminal activity is afoot. (T)ERROR has (T)ERROR has (T)ERROR received critical acclaim for not only tackling a controversial topic, but for the filmmakers’ daring willingness to get uncomfortably close to their subject by sending their cameras undercover to film an FBI sting operation as it unfolds. However, the film is most remarkable for the context it provides for post-9/11 government surveillance in the United States: (T)ERROR narrates present-day (T)ERROR narrates present-day (T)ERROR targeting of Muslims as part of a longer history of targeting primarily Black and Black Muslim communities. In doing so, the film also scrutinizes a core pillar of law enforcement investigations, and invites us to rethink the government’s 96 Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies, Vol. 1.1 permissive rules and lack of regulation of the FBI when it comes to the use of informants in their investigations. The story of an FBI informant and his target that unfolds through Sutcliffe and Cabral’s documentary illustrates the complicated dynamics and fundamentallyflawedreasoningthatpredominatesmuchoftheFBI ’scounterterrorismpriorities . For years, I worked closely with Muslim communities in New York City through the CLEAR project,1 including some of the very same communities and individuals targeted by the film’s central character, FBI informant Sayeed Torres. In my time at CLEAR, I witnessed – and documented – the devastating impacts of the FBI’s use of informants and overall surveillance of these communities on people’s daily lives, including disruptions to community dynamics, social fabric, and student life.2 The FBI has deployed informants at higher rates in the counterterrorism context than in other arenas; reportedly, there were 15,000 informants on the FBIs payroll in 2011.3 However, informants are not new, nor are they unique to the terrorism context. And herein lies the strength of Cabral and Sutcliffe’s work: in their intimate and deep-delving profile into the life of a single informant deployed for a terrorism investigation, we are seamlessly introduced to the historical continuities of present-day practices. Thus, the film calls into question the exceptionalism accorded to national security-related cases. (T)ERROR’s primary plot follows the targeting of Al-Akili, a young, white Muslim convert, by Torres in 2011. Al-Akili’s profile is one that we have become accustomed to seeing represented as the so-called homegrown, radicalized threat in popular media: he appears visibly Muslim and conservative – donning a kufi, rolled up pants or a thawb, a long beard – and has a habit of posting about foreign fighters on his Facebook feed. However, Torres actually opens a window into a much older and more...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2470-7074
Print ISSN
2470-7066
Pages
pp. 95-99
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-01
Open Access
No
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